21st century’s Rail-budget with a difference: More systematic reforms necessary

Guinness Record Holder for letters in Newspapers

Rail-budget for the year 2015-16 is certainly a budget with a difference when perhaps for the first time it had no political colour. It was a usual practice of earlier Railway Ministers of various parties and regimes that they used to shower rail-gifts for their constituencies and states. But this time stress is genuinely given on increasing passenger-facilities rather than on gimmick announcements of new trains.

Union Railway Minister should take care of increasing complaints about food-quality and unhygienic conditions where food to be served in trains is prepared. Also there is a sizable number of rail-passengers which do not consume rail-food because of some peculiar food-habits like ‘Jain Food’ without onion and garlic despite their being ‘forced’ compulsory paying cost of food with cost of rail-ticket in trains like ‘Rajdhani’ and ‘Shatabdi’. Variety of branded packaged food by reputed companies should be made available on payment of cost by giving sale-commission to rail staff. Abolishing charging food-cost with rail-fare will not only ensure hygiene but also will abolish ‘begging’ tips by rail-staff from the passengers. Rather scope of Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) can be increased for preparing packaged food like is done in case of ‘Rail-Neer’ (mineral water). Such an increased activity of IRCTC can be further utilized for ‘Mid-Day’ meal scheme in schools where also similar problems are there because of fresh-cooked food.

Union Railway Ministry and Union Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs should formulate some system whereby cost of non-travel by Parliamentarians on their reserved accommodation may be charged from personal pockets of erring Parliamentarians. Presently it is quite often that Parliamentarians do not care to cancel reservation in case of non-travel because they have not to personally suffer any cost for non-travel resulting in usual ‘No vacancy’ chart especially in first-class air-conditioned rail-travel. Parliamentarians should be allowed free rail-facility only in second-class air-conditioned rail-travel with priority in reservation. Travel in higher class may only be on payment of cost-difference from personal pockets of Parliamentarians.